Alexa is Everywhere – That Escalated Quickly

Amazon continues to pump out Alexa-enabled devices about every 3 weeks. In the last month or so we’ve seen the Echo Look and Echo Show. Today it’s the Alexa Dash Wand complete with bar code scanner and fridge magnet. Ordering from Amazon is now easier than ever – and that’s the whole idea.

The video shows frictionless ordering and seemingly instant delivery. One step closer to having your “robot butler”.

Amazon’s Dash Wand with Built In Alexa Assistant (video)

And it’s free after $20 store credit upon registration. What will they think of next?

⓱Lifestyles – We All Get Old (deal with it)

I don’t know anything about the software that allowed these videos to be created but the result is hypnotizing. Familiar faces age fifty years in a matter of minutes. It is simultaneously uplifting and angst-inspiring. 

I’ve shown these to a few people and the emotions are visceral and nearly universal…

Watching the years race by we cannot help but ponder our own aging process. We are gripped by the urge to press pause at a certain image that is youthful or charismatic. And later we pine to rewind when it’s clear the best years have passed. But instead our minds fast forward to the inevitable conclusion we all must face. And when the present day is reached and the image freezes there is relief. And an appreciation of the time that remains. Existential crisis has been averted!

It sounds a bit dramatic but watch the links below and see if you don’t feel the same. Self-preservation and body image are the most basic of instincts. It’s the human condition. Our default programming is a constant state of denial. 

We don’t often ponder our own existence because it’s so uncomfortable. But I think it’s healthy to do so once in a while. We all get old – hopefully with the same grade and dignity as these familiar folks. 

How would you feel about a video like this with your own photos? Watch a few from the playlist before you decide. 

The Amazing Evolution of Mic Jagger (most changed)

The Majesty of Jimmy Page (aged most gracefully)

Carrie Fisher Through the Years (most beautiful over 5 decades)

David Bowie is a Unique Chameleon (mesmerizing 3-D effect)

⓱Cord Cutting – DirecTV NOW Channel Line-Up Announced 

AT&T will go live with their internet TV streaming service on November 30th. DirecTV NOW will have 4 generous packages as well as add-on options for individual premium channels. The basic package costs only $35 monthly and has over 60 channels. Major broadcast networks are included and the local networks in select markets [CBS is a separate app and payment for now].

It will stream over Apple, Android and Amazon devices in addition to your personal computer. AT&T mobile users will have unlimited allowances for DirecTV content via cellular data.

I’m ditching Comcast this month and getting the free Apple TV promo at sign up. Cord-cutters rejoice!

Apple’s Newest USB-C Dongles — All 24 of them

Apple’s latest MacBook Pro has ditched the USB, SD, DisplayPort, ethernet and HDMI ports in favor of the newer USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 variety. Now none of your current USB devices will connect without an adapter. 

Fortunately the Apple Store has a full array of USB-C dongles for every possible circumstance.
There are two essential adapters:

  1. To convert USB-C ports to accept your older USB devices you will want  several of these adapters
  2. To connect your iPhone to your MacBook you will want one of these

And here are all the rest: 

USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m)

USB-C to Lightning Cable (2m)

USB-C to USB Adapter

Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter

USB-C Charge Cable (2m)

USB-C Power Adapter 29W

USB-C Power Adapter 61W

USB-C Power Adapter 87W

USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter

USB-C SD Card Reader

USB-C Porsche Design Hard Drive 1TB

USB-C Porsche Design Hard Drive 2TB

USB-C Porsche Design Hard Drive 4TB

USB-C Porsche Design Hard Drive 5TB

USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

USB-C Flash Drive 64GB

USB-C to VGA Adapater

USB-A to USB-C Cable 2.0

USB-A to USB-C Cable 3.1

USB-C to USB-C Cable 3.1

USB-C to Mini-B Charge Cable 2.0

USB-C to Micro-B Charge Cable 2.0

USB-C to Micro-B Charge Cable 3.1




Re-Enabling the Startup Chime on the 2016 MacBook Pro

Every Mac since 1993 has awaked with a signature startup chime. Its presence signals a succesful passage of the initial hardware and firmware checks. Its absence, however, could aid introubleshooting a failed boot attempt. The tone became so associated with Apple that they trademarked the F-sharp major chord. This traditional sound (along with the glowing Apple logo) will end with the release of the Late-2016 Macbook Pro.

There was always a way to silence the chime with a few command lines in Terminal. Thankfully, lovers of the chime can reactivate it with a single line of code. Just open Spotlight and search for Terminal. Once it has opened a command line simply type sudo nvram BootAudio=%01 and the chime will return on your next reboot.

There was always something comforting about hearing that chord and then seeing your desktop spring to life. Personally, I’m looking forward to hearing it again. 

⓱Apple – Where Have All the ‘iPhone-Killers’ Gone?

Mudslinging is easy – and it’s all the rage right now. Just tune in to a presidential debate if there’s any doubt. Yet with Apple’s rivals falling by the wayside there has been no gloating and no self-congratulatory proclamations. In the last few months we’ve seen whole product lines from Windows Phone, Nokia, Blackberry and the Samsung Galaxy Note go extinct. And still not a hint of Schadenfreude from Apple.

What a contrast to Microsoft’s mock funeral for the iPhone in 2010. At the time Windows Phone 7 had yet to ship and the iPhone was on the brink of becoming a cultural phenomenon. Somehow the Microsoft’s mobile OS team felt compelled to celebrate a premature victory. The results are truly cringeworthy.

There’s so much to love about this video: the dated format, the garish costumes, the cheesy choreography and most of all the sweet, sweet irony.

Apple is keeping it classy and that speaks volumes to their corporate culture. Steve Jobs had famously stated that in order for Apple to win it’s not necessary for its rivals to lose.

At the time that sounded counter-intuitive or even naive. But this week’s events show just how prescient those words were.


⓱mobile – AT&T Waives Data Limits and Late Payment Fees in Areas Impacted by Hurricane Matthew

AT&T recognizes the value of cell service during the chaos and confusion following a natural disaster. As a result they will not upcharge costumers who exceed their data limits or miss payment deadlines in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. 

I am a resident of central Florida who was displaced from my home due to a mandatory evacuation. Despite the power outages and wind damage we had no loss of cellular service. 

Mobile phones are proven life savers and therefore indispensable in the aftermath of a natural disaster. I commend AT&T for supporting their customers in this time of hardship. 

Road Kill – Apple Knocks Off 3 Competitors in a Month

Last month several sources reported the Jawbone UP activity tracker stopped shipping and the device maker’s bills were going unpaid. Updated reports suggest there is still hope for Jawbone’s recovery but expectations remain low. Now Microsoft has confirmed that the Band 2 will be discontinued once the current supply has been depleted.

This news comes just as the second generation Apple Watch is hitting shelves. The Series 2 is being heavily promoted for its fitness capabilities rather than a do-it-all smart watch. Apple recently added social sharing of fitness achievements to better compete with the the growing community of FitBit users.

The remaining manufacturers have aggressively updated their product lines in preparation for the Christmas buying season. The activity tracking market, however, is shaping up to be a two horse race between Apple and FitBit. Much like the smartphone market it is Apple that will dominate in revenue while it’s competitors fight over market share.

Despite their impressive offerings TomTom and Garmin can’t afford to take the Apple Watch lightly. If there’s any doubt just ask Blackberry who quit phone production last week.